28 February 2011

Today we touched on two of the poems: “When You Are Old” and “Sonnet XXLIII.”

In terms of “When You Are Old,” I offered a paraphrase.  Then I asked us to work backwards given that paraphrase to figure out what evidence the poem offers that it is in fact a “and twist” kind of a poem.  We came up with some biggies:

  1. The command form of the verbs take, read, murmur.  These verbs indicate the speaker is telling someone what to do in the future, when she “is old and gray.”
  2. The positive things are largely in the past –people loved her, one man loved the pilgrim soul in you
  3. The big negative has already happened–love left her.
  4. And while we’re thinking symbolically, we notice that the man has gone and “hid his face amid a crowd of stars” while the lady is bending down by the glowing bars of the fireplace.  Hmm.  Stars.  Fireplace.  Stars.  Fireplace.  Two things come to mind:  (a) The speaker is positioning himself OVER the woman (b) Stars = heaven and Fireplace = hell?

We talked through the confusing images in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem, but we need to finish talking about the last line of Sonnet XXLIII on Wednesday and then we’ll finish up the rest of the cluster poems.  For Wednesday, please journal on whichever cluster you haven’t yet tackled.


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